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Tax Preparation: How to Prepare to Do Your Taxes

how to prepare to do your taxes | Layman NicholsBy Dean ‘Mac’ Nichols, Attorney

To make tax preparation time as painless as possible, get organized: 

  • collect your documents (such as W-2 forms, 1099s and information from the banks and investment firms you do business with)
  • check the documents for accuracy
  • pull out your previous year’s tax return for comparison so that you are less likely to overlook an item.

After you get organized, you need to decide how to prepare your return based on your specific needs.  About 70% of U.S. taxpayers are eligible for one of the many free online services available. Visit the Free File Wizard tool on the IRS website to see if you are eligible. Even those who are not eligible for free filing may still find that filing online through a pay service works for them.

If you are not eligible for free filing it may be due to the complexity of your financial situation. For example if you are self-employed, have significant income from investments, are in college or have children in college, have rental property or any other factor that makes your finances more complicated. In these cases it is recommended that you consult an experienced tax preparer for their advice, even if you will be preparing the return yourself.

Finally, don’t wait until the last minute. Whether you are preparing your own taxes or using the services of an accountant, remember, so is everyone else!

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